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6 Free Online Interactive White Boards

by Kelly Walsh on April 18, 2010

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An update to last April’s post about free web-based IWBs.

Last April, I wrote a post about a few Online Interactive Whiteboards that I had checked out. That post remains one of my most popular posts, so obviously this is a topic of interest to a lot of people. [Note to readers: There is now an updated version of this post, with new links added, and apps that are no available removed, here: "6 Free Online Collaborative Interactive White Boards – 2012 Update". - KW 11/5/12]

I figured it was time for an update, to check out new tools, and to see if there have been any changes with the apps I reviewed last year. Below I have listed 6 web-based Interactive White Board applications, and provided a little info about each. This is followed by a comparative table of some desirable functions.

Scribblar appears to have evolved a bit since my review last year. This time I was able to get it to work. This is a nice tool for collaborating. You can easily invite others to participate, and there are plenty of useful tools for drawing and editing. You can also chat or use voice to communicate with each other. You can save images (use the Snapshot icon, which will save images to the Assets pane, where they can be downloaded from). Scribblar is definitely worth trying out!
[Ed Note: As of August 2012, Dabbleboard has been shut down. Sorry!] I loved Dabbleboard last year when I took it for a test run, and have continued to use it from time to time since. It’s a useful, easy to use white board tool, with some solid functionality. I recommend giving it a try if you are interested in using a free online collaborative whiteboard.
  ImaginationCubed.com, from GE, was another tool I instantly took to in my review last year. This a simple, straightforward tool. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the other tools, but simple and dependable are good qualities. [Ed Note: As of July 2011, it appears that this tool has been taken off line! - KW]
I didn’t come across Scriblink last year when I reviewed sites. I really like what I see, but … try as I might I couldn’t successfully interact with another user. It was easy to invite someone to collaborate, but they did not end up on my board. I could also save and send a board, but again, there was no interaction taking place. I found no FAQ, no Help, nothing to explain how to make this work. [If anyone has successfully collaborated with Scriblink, please comment and let us know the steps you followed.]
Writeboard is a text-only collaboration tool, not a drawing based tool. At first, I found this to be a turn-off, but after using the other tools, I realized that this is a good idea. If your goal is to collaborate with others on the development of a text document, the other tools here are really not functional for that. I gave Writeboard a quick test, and it was easy to use, but honestly I came away feeling that Google Docs does a better job of this.
Skrbl is still in beta and there’s a note right on their front page (as of this writing) stating, “skrbl is back up but some services may still be affected we’ll be testing and updating ASAP”. It looks like Skrbl is still a “try at your own risk” situation.   


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Comparative Grid
Here’s a table comparing some of the features and functions of these different tools.

Application Collaboration functionality Work can be saved? Upload images? Other Notes
Scriblink  Yes, via email and URL (but I couldn’t get it to work!) Print, Save, or E-mail Yes Variety of paid  business plans available, providing extensive customization  (branding) options.
Writeboard  Yes, via email and URL. Yes – save the whiteboard, or export it to a txt or html file. No Writeboard is a text document collaboration tool, not a drawing collaboration tool.
Dabbleboard  Yes (via URL). Yes (save images to Library on their site, or download as a png file) Yes Nice library function. Also has an embed feature. Has Pro version that provides privacy and branding functionality.
Scribblar  Yes (via email invite) Yes (save whiteboard ‘room’ on their site, or download as a jpg file) Yes Has an easy to use ‘embed’ feature that lets you embed their whiteboard ‘room’ into another web page.
ImaginationCubed  Yes (via email invite) Print or send whiteboard via e-mail (can’t save as an image) No Nice ‘replay’ function that will replay everything users did in a whiteboard session
Skrbl  Only in paid version Can save work on their site? Not clear Beta release with issues.

 

Conclusions
Scribblar and Dabbleboard are both pretty solid tools and I recommend them both. ImaginationCubed is also a nice app, and it’s great for doing something simple and quick, but not as robust as Scribblar and Dabbleboard.

If you’re interested in collaborating on a text document, Writeboard is worth trying, but Google Docs is probably a better way to go (although you do have to set up a Google Account, which is free, but a little more involved).

Skrbl is just not ready for prime time, and Scriblink may not be quite there yet either (although it looks like it could be just as capable as Scribblar and Dabbleboard, if I could only figure out how to successfully collaborate with it!).

Next?
At the end of last week’s post, I suggested that I would probably be writing about my experiences with screen capture tool Camtasia this week, but obviously I chose not to. Camtasia just recently released an upgrade to Version 7, and I was just learning Camtasia 6, so I’m working on transitioning to and learning Ver 7 and will be blogging about it soon.

In the meanwhile, I’m heading down to Orlando this week to attend Campus Management’s CampusInsight Annual Conference (we use Campus Vue at the college where I work). Campus Management acquired Talisma last year, a major player in CRM in Higher Ed. I may take a bit of a tangent from my usual focus on instructional and classroom tech to discuss this exciting administrative/business app for Higher Ed.

Please be sure to stop back next week and see what we’re learning about!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Interactive (online) Whiteboards – Part 2 of 2

Mimio’s unique approach to Interactive White Board technology
Learning about Interactive Whiteboards for the Classroom
9 insightful videos about using SMART Boards in the Classroom

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About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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